Tonight (August 2), in honor of the 10th anniversary of the premiere of MTV's reality TV-pioneering The Hills, longtime Lauren Conrad fans got a gift that far exceeded the value of the occasion's traditional tin.
The show, which premiered in May 2006, followed the Laguna Beach-famous Conrad as she ventured from the safety of her parents' seaside mansion to Los Angeles, where she was jobless and friendless. She eventually landed an internship at Teen Vogue, got a BFF in Heidi Montag and reconnected with her high school ex, Jason Wahler. But life came with its complications for the then-19-year old, too. She was also routinely mocked at work, got her heart stomped on and eventually found herself on the end of an obscene rumor that effectively ended her friendship with Montag.
And audiences couldn't get enough. At its peak, The Hills drew nearly 5 million viewers.
Still, considering the popularity of the show, questions remained year after year: Was it all fake? Were the tears, breakdowns and love affairs pre-scripted?
Welp, as Conrad put it on That Was Then, This Is Now, the show's anniversary special, it certainly all felt real...at least in the beginning. Conrad would eventually leave the show partway through its fifth season when it began to feel staged, but the show's legacy still lives on through GIFs, memes and, of course, recitation of "You'll always be known as the girl who didn't go to Paris."
Now married with two successful fashion lines under her belt, Conrad said she's finally begun to understand the show's enduring appeal, and why people keep tuning in anytime MTV airs a marathon.
"The issues we dealt with were not specific to that time,” she said. “No matter where you live or who you are, you fall in love, and you have your heart broken; you make friends, and you lose them; you have trouble in work and your personal life and you’re still figuring out who you are. Every year, people go through those over and over again."
And while the sense of universality was nice, the show's special included some revelations that came completely out of left field, too. Look back at nine particularly shocking admissions from the broadcast below — and if you watched That Was Then, This Is Now, tell us what you thought in the comments.
Lauren cried through her breakup with Jason because he wasn't sober.
In Season 2's premiere, Lauren revealed she and Jason had broken up, and cried as she returned his stuff to his apartment. The tears seemed pretty normal considering the circumstances, but Conrad revealed she was actually upset that Jason, who had a history of addiction, was headed down a bad path.
"What made it harder was I could see he wasn’t sober,” she said. “That just broke me. I felt a responsibility to take care of him, and when we broke up I felt like I was abandoning him. There was a lot of nights when I was getting 2 a.m. calls and I would have to go pick him up, passed out, in the back of a club. So I was like ‘Who’s doing that now? I know he doesn’t have friends that are doing it.'"
Stephanie Pratt has an English accent now?
...a little one, at least.
Pratt appeared in a series of interstitial segments during commercial breaks and shared that she's moved to London since filming the show (she now appears on the popular Made In Chelsea). Evidently, some of London has moved into her, too.
Everyone loved Les Deux because it was easy to hide there.
It was the show's most iconic hangout, but maybe not for the drink specials. During in-club confrontations (and there were many), Conrad said it was easy to hide out from cameras if things got particularly heated.
"That was why I loved Les Deux: If you needed a moment, there were so many rooms," she said. "We could disappear really quickly."
Whitney Port hated Lady Gaga's outfit!
Port, who also appeared in the interstitial segments, remembered struggling to fix Gaga's catsuit before a performance in Season 4 because of a zipper malfunction. Eventually, she and Conrad, who were Teen Vogue interns, got the garment to cooperate, but Port, now a fashion designer, said Gaga would have been better off going back to the drawing board.
Lauren's parents were never mad about anything that aired.
Sex tape rumors? Pfft. Obscenity-laden confrontations at the bar? No big deal. Conrad gave her parents a lot of credit for being open and understanding of Hills footage that eventually made it to air...for better or worse.
"Hot tip: If you’re gonna be on reality television, tell your parents stuff, because they’re gonna find out," she said.
It was all mostly real...until Lauren dated Brody.
When it came to love (and losing it), Lauren had her hands full through Season 2. But when she found herself single, producers began to pressure her to date. So she contrived a relationship with Brody, even though she insisted there was no chemistry between them. The special actually includes footing of her turning to producers and saying "Can we be done? This is so awkward!" after a kiss.
This dynamic is when Conrad said she noticed the show going from something that seemed mostly real to manufactured.
"He was my friend, I enjoyed spending time with him, but it always felt forced," she said. "He knew the cameras made it look like it was more than it was."
Brittany Canada Whore is no longer in Brody's phone.
The most infamous number on Brody's contact list is no longer, he admitted during a commercial break.
"It's so sad Brittany Canada Whore isn't in the phone anymore," he said.
Lauren didn't want to take that picturesque ride through Paris.
Perhaps the late-night jaunt from Season 3 seemed romantic after editors took a pass, but Conrad said she had to work her ass off to avoid the stranger's kiss. She insisted production and executive producer Adam DiVello tried to make it happen.
"I was like: ‘I’m not gonna kiss him, Adam. Adam was like, ‘Please kiss him,'" Conrad recalled.
Lauren genuinely thought the experience was real.
By the time Lauren bowed out of the show partway through Season 5, production had become predictably staged, but she says during the first few seasons, everything about The Hills seemed real to her. Arguments, kisses and stressful days as a Teen Vogue intern were all a part of her organic experience as a newcomer to Los Angeles.
"I took it very seriously, and I felt an obligation to share everything I was going through, and that’s hard because when you want to give someone the truth, you have to give them the whole truth...Every argument to me felt like the end of the world, and I think that’s just part of growing up."
See a Collection of TV Co-Stars Who Weren't As Friendly in Real Life:
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